This project transformed existing space within a Columbia University Teachers College building into the new Cowin Center conference facility. Teachers College had faced a long-standing problem: they could host event for small groups under 200 people, but there was no venue for major events. The college’s only option was the outdated and acoustically-challenging Horace Mann Auditorium, where those seated in the rear of the balcony were unable to see the stage.
Teachers College selected H3 to create a phasing plan and execute the design of the project. Phase I focused on the auditorium and its complete change in structure and technology. Phase II involved moving the offices of admissions, registrar, financial aid, and other functions to a new location.
The ground floor of the Horace Mann building, on Broadway between 120th and 121st streets, has been divided into lecture rooms, seminar spaces, and classrooms able to accommodate 350 students. These spaces serve both as “break-out” rooms for conferences and as venues for lectures and small meetings.
The new 600-person auditorium features a complete change in structure with improved acoustics, expanded lighting capacity, air conditioning and heating systems, access ramps for the disabled and state-of-the-art audio-visual capabilities. H3’s design provides the auditorium requested by the college for large lectures and multimedia presentations, but can also host concert performances for music, dance and theater.
The Cowin Center, including both levels of the auditorium and the stage, is fully accessible to the physically challenged. A wheelchair-accessible entrance was added to the building on 120th Street.